High quality wine by the glass? Usually, you would have to visit one of the top gourmet wine restaurants or bars where you would pay a fortune for them. Not in Vienna.
Traditional Heurigen are a blessing for wine lovers visiting the Austrian capital as well as for locals. These legendary wine shops, which are sometimes also wine bars, with a traditional Austrian ambiance are run by Viennese wine growers. You can get a very nice glass of Grüner Veltliner for as little as 1,50 € or a tasting session of six varieties from 7 €.
"smart" wine tasting board
Compared to the Middle Ages when the wines sprawled out right into the centre of the town, today you must head to the outskirts. In the North you find fine Riesling, Chardonnay and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) pampered by the limestone soil. The most popular and also more touristy area there is Grinzing.
If you want to escape the crowd then head to the South. Black earth soils favour strong white wines and opulent red cuvées (blends).
In a bone-chilling December I couldn’t explore any of the open wineries, so popular during the summer as you can enjoy wines outdoors with a spectacular view on Vienna.
During the winter you have to look for places with their own warm premises where you can taste the whole evening and in some even get a bite to eat.
I’ve visited Steinklammer, located in the Southern area of Mauer. This Heuriger has over 310 years of tradition and their staff is very helpful.
Steinklammer heurigen
Their lovely wooden inn was perfect for an icy evening. Starting with a glass of white Grüner Veltliner, high in acidity and tasting like a ripe green pear, I was a bit disappointed as it was perhaps too young for me.
Nevertheless, I moved to a Riesling, Reisberg, 2008 smelling like an elder flower, which with its balanced and refreshing citrus aroma enticed me to taste more.
I moved to reds and went for a tasting of six varieties for 9€. They were served on a long wooden tray with six fitted cuts for glasses.
The most interesting was Cabernet Franc 2002. Sweet at the beginning reminding me a black currant juice and later moving to deeper tones of casis.
Similar to this was Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 as it was quite fruity as well, but more distinct tannins in the mouth.
Cuvée Titan 2005 was a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Its unique taste of raisins and griotte was a pearl in a shell. Now I could happily leave this cosy Heuriger lucky enough to have a friend to take me home in her car. No way I would be able to drive after such a feast!
Still I was far from tasting all. In Vienna you can explore a wide variety of the typical “Gemischter Satz”, which is a wine made from different grape varieties planted next to each other and even harvested together.
Viennese are not afraid to experiment, but not on the account of the quality. Their wines will surprise you.
I bet, that most of you will know mostly the white Austrian wines as they make for 70% of the total production. That said the remaining 30% of reds are worth trial, at least for me they were a pleasant surprise. Let me know if I am wrong.
Look at the list of some Heurigen in Vienna and some facts about Heurigen in Vienna.